The Class of 2021 from Bregado Flax Educational Centre Secondary Division celebrated graduation on Friday in a virtual broadcast filled with music and memories. Above, a graduate’s shirt is signed. (Screenshot: FACEBOOK)

Even though the territory is seeing some of its strictest social distancing measures since the beginning of the pandemic, the students and staff of Bregado Flax Educational Centre Secondary Division adapted to find ways of celebrating the Class of 2021’s journey.

A live broadcast on July 15 included photos of students signing one another’s shirts and a five-person ensemble of flutes and brass playing the national anthem, followed by the territorial song performed by students Jada Barrett, Toriah Pryce and Nickeya Vanterpool.

This year’s theme celebrated “Striving for a Sustainable Future.”

Principal Hilroy George shared his confidence that the departing students had gained the tools they need to launch into a viable, sustainable future, and that their skills will have a meaningful impact on the continued growth of the territory.

He commended those students who passed Caribbean Examinations Council subjects, completed English Proficiency Exams on the first try, participated in dual enrolment at H. Lavity Stoutt Community College, and otherwise made their families and teachers proud.

“I gladly recognise all of your efforts, and I salute those of you who made honours,” he said. “My teachers and staff: mega thanks to you. Your stress and unwavering commitment have yielded good fruits. You were reliable foot soldiers throughout these challenging years.”

He advised the graduates to carry forward a competitive spirit as they make their way in the world.

Mr. George offered special congratulations to Ms. Pryce for being the first Virgin Gorda singer to take home the top prize in last year’s Gen Y Factor competition, and to the school’s debate and spelling teams for their championship wins.

“This is what we call a triple crown,” Mr. George said.

He concluded with a poem celebrating each of the outgoing students.

Diving deep

This year’s valedictorian was Alonya Ophelia, and the salutatorian was Claonna Harrigan.

Ms. Ophelia, who aspires to attend culinary school and then sail the seas, shared the difficulties she faced keeping up with her studies after being forced to move abroad following the 2017 hurricanes.

“Isn’t it true that we are one strong group?” she said. “Never put a limit on your skills. Instead, dive deep and discover your purpose.”

Guest speaker Colleen Farrington, a senior counsel at Walkers, celebrated the students for being part of “a generation that refuses to stay silent” on important issues.

Premier Andrew Fahie and other officials contributed audio messages.

“Recently, many of us in Virgin Gorda and the rest of the BVI have experienced the loss of a loved one,” Mr. Fahie said. “Words can never effectively describe or soothe the pain we feel from these losses. … Yet, it is the best of times. Through your graduation exercise today, you have proven that once you do not give up, stay prayed up, and remain laser focused, then you will overcome all challenges.”